Ethics. Research. Community.

Do the attitudes and beliefs of young teenagers towards general practice influence actual consultation behaviour?

The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
BACKGROUND: Teenagers are believed to have health concerns that are not adequately addressed in primary care because of perceived barriers that inhibit them from consulting a general practitioner (GP). We report the results of a study examining links between potential attitudinal barriers and actual help-seeking behaviour. AIM: To determine whether the attitudes of teenagers towards general practice are associated with differences in consultation patterns. METHOD: Results of a postal questionnaire survey of attitudes to general practice, performed among teenage patients aged 13 to 15 years registered with five general practices in the East Midlands, were analysed in relation to consultation data from retrospective casenote analysis for the preceding 12 months. RESULTS: Matched questionnaire and consultation data were available for 678 teenagers. We found few significant differences in overall consultation rates between teenagers expressing differing attitudes about aspects of general practice. Differences did exist in relation to perceived difficulty in getting an appointment, feeling able to confide in a GP, and perception of adequate time being given in the consultation. Fear of embarrassment was associated with lower consultation rates for gynaecological problems and contraception. CONCLUSIONS: Negative perceptions of general practice by teenagers may have less of an influence on actual consultation behaviour than previously believed. However, there are some aspects of care that merit further attention if teenagers are to feel able to consult their GP more easily.
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